Jessicah Keller and her homebred palomino mare Coronarita Time claimed the 2019 NRHA Novice Horse Non Pro Level 2 World Championship.
By Megan Arszman
It’s always exciting to win an NRHA World Championship, but winning a title on a horse whose dam was raised on your family’s farm is especially exhilarating, according to 2019 NRHA Novice Horse Non Pro Level 2 World Champion, Jessicah Keller.
Keller’s mom, Tammye Hutton, bred and raised Keller’s mount, Coronarita Time (Shine Big Time x Corona Lite Chex), at the family’s Hilldale Farm. Keller also showed the mare’s dam; Keller’s sister, Sarah Locker, showed her granddam, Corona Light.
“While most people buy their broodmares, we raise our own and have generations and generations of broodmares that we’ve shown,” Keller explained.
In addition to the importance of promoting Hilldale Farm bloodlines in the show pen, Keller finds significance in the World Championship itself. This win marks Keller’s eleventh title to date.
“I always have [the World Championship title] in the back of my mind,” she said. “It’s nice to have a record on your broodmare.”
In 2019, the goal for Keller and “Rita” was to get the mare’s NRHA LTE above $20,000. Keller explained that the 2013 mare wasn’t shown extensively when she was younger, so Hutton asked Keller to show the mare.
“She started out as my sister’s futurity horse,” Keller shared. “Sarah showed her some, but her job requires her to be gone a lot, so she wasn’t able to show the mare very much,” Keller shared.
After Keller’s first show with Rita in late 2018, she knew the partnership could work.
“Rita is about what we would expect, bred like she is—she’s a great big turner, great big stopper, and such a pretty mare,” she said.
In fact, Rita’s impressive looks might make her stand out the most. The mare’s knee-length mane requires daily attention.
“I’m looking forward to not having to braid her mane as much anymore,” Keller laughed.
Rita’s relaxed demeanor makes her suitable for other classes in addition to the novice horse. At a show in Hamilton, Texas, Keller took top honors in the derby with Rita, then handed the reins to her 9-year-old daughter, Josie Torpey, to show in Short Stirrup.
“Josey did well on her, and it was pretty cool because not many derby horses can show with a 9-year-old [rider],” Keller reflected.
Keller and Rita ended the 2019 season only about $400 short of the $20,000 LTE goal for the mare. After completing that task in 2020, Keller and her family plan to focus on Rita’s breeding career. In the meantime, Keller has a 2-year-old out of the mare she’s aiming for the 2021 futurity season. That baby, and Rita’s future offspring, will be fourth-generation competitors for Hilldale Farm, making their show-pen victories even more meaningful for Keller and her family.